Fil-Tongan Moala Tautuaa explains decision to move from Cagayan to Cebuana Lhuillier Gems
Moala Tautuaa is playing for his second team in his second conference in the PBA D-League. Freddie Dionisio

NEWLY-ACQUIRED Cebuana Lhuillier big man Moala Tautuaa said he chose to transfer to the Gems in the D-League to learn to adjust quickly to a new team, something he believes will help him when he moves to the PBA.

Tautuaa signed with the Gems after his one-conference contract with Cagayan Valley expired, saying he needs to experience another system, be comfortable with constant changes in personnel, coaching systems, and other aspects of being a professional player.

“I know that in the PBA, they have different systems, and they trade, and a lot of stuff going on so I have to prepare my mind for something like that,” said Tautuaa, who is expected to be a possible top overall pick in this year’s PBA draft.

Tautuaa said he is just starting to adjust to the Gems, who were not able to play one tune-up game in the offseason.

The Fil-Tongan cager said the Gems play a totally different system from the Rising Suns and he is eager to blend in.

“They are patient with me. I messed up a lot, I’m just human, but they are being patient with me. It’s totally different from Cagayan. Everything is different and it’s good. We are running different kinds of plays,” said Tautuaa.

Tautuaa finished with 34 points and 13 rebounds for the Gems in their nailbiting 86-85 win over Café France on Monday, sinking the marginal free throw for a rousing debut.

[See Tautuaa free throw in dying moments caps Gems fightback from 21 points down to beat Bakers]

“Magaling ’yung team ko. They accepted me. This is really our first game as a team because no one wanted to play us in any scrimmages so this is really our tune-up game in a sense. But we came through as a team. Our team got together and we pushed together as a team,” said Tautuaa.

The endgame situation against Café France was similar to Game Two of the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup finals against Hapee when he was on the foul line, needing only one free throw to win the game for the Rising Suns but missed both shots.

Tautuaa said he doesn’t want those missed free throws to affect his game overall.

“It’s on and off. But I’m not going to let the pressure get to me. The more I think of it, the worst it’s going to be. If it falls, it falls,” said Tautuaa.


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